BC-BKC--Final Four-Auburn-Virginia-Instant Analysis
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Virginia lost its poise in a monumental first-round loss a year ago and appeared to be in trouble again.
A 10-point lead against Auburn, gone in a flash of Bryce Brown 3-pointers. A trip to the national title game, less than two seconds away from being snatched away in another disappointing collapse.
Then a big call by an official and three of the gutsiest free throws in the NCAA Tournament.
Virginia and its pack-line defense are headed to the title game after all.
Kyle Guy hit three free throws with 0.6 seconds left and Virginia survived Auburn’s late-game rally for a 63-62 in the Final Four Saturday night.
Virginia (34-3) stymied the Tigers and Brown all night, building the lead to 57-47 with more than five minutes left.
But one antidote to Virginia’s pack-line D is a hot shooter. Purdue’s Carsen Edwards proved that in the Sweet 16, though the Cavaliers still managed to pull out the victory.
Brown almost shot the Cavaliers back to Charlottesville. The senior guard hit three 3-pointers during a 14-0 run to put Auburn up 61-47 with 17 seconds left.
A year after being bounced by No. 16 seed UMBC in a history-making loss, Virginia was on the verge of an epic collapse.
The team that couldn’t get it done was about to add another notch to that resume.
Not so fast.
Trailing by 4, the Cavaliers kept their composure as Auburn (30-10) burned through its last two fouls before hitting the bonus.
Virginia nearly lost its chance when Ty Jerome fumbled the ball — and may have double dribbled — and called timeout with 1.5 seconds left to draw up one last-ditch play.
The Cavaliers got the ball into a cutting Guy, who turned and put up a shot that came up short.
The noise inside U.S. Bank Stadium made it so the whistle couldn’t be heard, so the Tigers came rushing onto the court.
Virginia’s bench saw referee James Breeding’s hand in the air and waited. Auburn coach Bruce Pearl, who didn’t, started stomping and screaming when the officials came to review the monitor, checking if it was a 3-point shot.
His team’s season on the line, Guy stepped to the free throw line, facing three of the biggest free throws in college basketball history.
First one, in. Second one, same.
Auburn called timeout, hoping to freeze Virginia’s junior guard.
Calm under the most intense pressure imaginable, Guy calmly sank the third free throw to put the Cavaliers in the lead.
After Auburn’s last-ditch attempted failed, Virginia’s players rushed the court as the Tigers dropped to the floor.
Known for wilting under NCAA Tournament pressure, the Cavaliers had pulled off the biggest win in program history.
One more time and they’ll be national champions for the first time.